Monday, October 31, 2011

This Week at the Movies

Happy Halloween!

This past weekend, I caught up with three movies - "In Time," "The Rum Diary" and "Like Crazy" - that I reviewed for Patch and one, "The Mill and the Cross," that I did not (but liked). 

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'm going to review "Tower Heist" and, most likely, the "Harold and Kumar" movie.

Also, doing a Nicolas Winding Refn festival. I'm going to see the "Pusher" trilogy for the first time and rewatch "Bronson" and "Valhalla Rising."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Season's Bleedings: The Halloween Movie Canon (Plus Ten More)

This morning, I posted the Halloween Horror Movie Canon on Patch. The piece includes a number of titles you'd expect to see on such a list - "The Shining," "Nosferatu," "Halloween" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

But I've also added a top ten list of horror movies you might have missed, such as Nicolas Roeg's atmospheric freakout "Don't Look Now" or the surreal African fright film "Dust Devil."

Check out the list here.

And, because nobody's perfect, I realize I left off a few choice movies, including "The Last House on the Left," "Inside" and "Blood and Black Lace." I purposely left off a number of classics, such as "Frankenstein," "Dracula" and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and stuck with films made between the 1960s and the present. One exception, obviously, is F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu."

Any other noteworthy horror classics I missed?

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Week at the Movies: Le Havre, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Paranormal Activity 3

Note to Hollywood: stop locating found footage! To be fair, "Paranormal Activity 3" has a few truly creepy moments. But on the whole, it's another long slog through an hour and ten minutes of tedium for ten minutes of payoff.

Sean Durkin's debut, "Martha Marcy May Marlene," is much creepier and includes a breakout performance by Elizabeth Olsen. I was not quite as blown away by the picture as a number of other critics have been, but it's still a solid independent thriller - eerily shot, beautifully acted and retaining a sense of dread throughout.

The week's piece de resistance was Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre," which is one of the Finnish auteur's finest films to date as well as a movie that stays with you long after having seen it. In fact, the movie expands in my mind the longer I think about it. Plus, it features Little Bob! You'll have to see for yourself.

Here are my reviews for Patch.

For some non-related film content, take a look at my list of the top ten worst items to receive in your trick or treat bag on Halloween.

Later this week, I'm going to post a piece on Patch on the best Halloween films you've likely never seen. This coming weekend, I'm going to try to catch up with "The Rum Diary," "Like Crazy" and "In Time."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Almodovar's Mad Scientist Movie (And Department of Been There, Done That, '80s Edition)

It's going to be light posting today due to a busy week.

Last weekend, I caught up with Pedro Almodovar's creepy "The Skin I Live In," which is not among the maestro's best films, but still better than most psychological thrillers.

My reviews for Patch also included "The Thing," a tepid prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film and one of two '80s rehashes I saw this weekend, and "Texas Killing Fields," an average serial killer drama.

Check out my reviews here.

I also managed to squeeze in Lucky McKee's "The Woman," an extremely horror film in the torture porn genre. I found the picture's brand of horror movie feminism intriguing, but was pretty turned off by its repulsive violence. Also, caught "Footloose." Meh. A few good dance numbers and some pretty bland remakes of '80s chestnuts that should have been left well-enough alone.

This coming weekend, I'm going to definitely catch "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and Aki Kaurasmaki's "Le Havre" and will most likely end up seeing "Paranormal Activity 3."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That Old (But Good) Familiar Feeling: 'The Ides of March' and 'Weekend'

This week's cinematic selections follow oldie but goodie formulas and each managed to succeed one way or another.

First up was George Clooney's "The Ides of March," a political thriller that does not tell us anything we did not already knew about our messy election process. But the film is clearly made with a sure hand and features some sharp writing and performances.

Ryan Gosling continues to prove he's one of the best actors working in mainstream film, while Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti all give terrific supporting performances.

Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" also treads familiar ground. It takes the formula of Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" films, but transports the story to England, where two gay men - one shy and reserved, the other more outspoken - riff on everything from relationships, politics, gay marriage and art. The film takes a little while to draw us in, but it eventually manages to do so. It's a solid little picture.

Check out my reviews here.

Ever wanted to wander around in, say, a David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick film (especially "The Shining" or "Eyes Wide Shut?) or a Shakespeare play (say, "Macbeth"). Done, done and done! Last weekend, I took part in one of the most unique theater performances I've witnessed in a while.

And I literally mean "took part in." The show is a version, of sorts, of Shakespeare's great tragedy, but set in five floors of a spooky old abandoned hotel in Chelsea. Truly, there's nothing quite like it.

Read my piece on my experience with "Sleep No More."

Alas, I have no review for "50/50," with which I finally caught up over the weekend. It's a nice little dramedy and Joseph Gordon Levitt brings the right amount of humor and pathos to his role.

This weekend, there's much to be seen. Priority number one is Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In," but I'd also love to catch up with "Texas Killing Fields," Lucky McKee's "The Woman" and the remake of "The Thing."

I didn't make it to "The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)," mainly due to the fact that it's only playing at midnight. It will have to wait for video.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shelter from the Storm: Jeff Nichols's Extraordinary New Film

"Take Shelter" is one of the year's better films I've seen so far. The film subtly paints a chilling portrayal of how we live now and has a unique perspective on mental illness.

It's an unsettling picture with two terrific performances - Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain - as well as a director (Jeff Nichols) with great promises at its helm.

The week's other film about insanity, "Dream House," was a disappointment, considering that it is directed by Jim Sheridan and stars Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts.

Check out my Patch reviews here.

This weekend, I will obviously check out George Clooney's "The Ides of March" and will likely catch up with "Weekend" (the gay romance, not Godard's classic) and "50/50."

I will not, however, see "The Human Centipede (Full Sequence)" as it is only playing at midnight screenings at the IFC Center. I can't say I'm completely heartbroken.